Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Social Security Benefits


Senator Chuck Schumer has warned his constituents, that House Republicans have taken an unprecedented step toward cutting Social Security benefits for nine million Americans with disabilities.
On the first day of the new Congress, the House Republicans passed a technical voting rule that will hold Social Security benefits hostage, thereby pitting retirees and beneficiaries with disabilities against each other.
The only way Senate Democrats can stop this attempt to divide-and-conquer is to stand together.  Senator Schumer has joined Senators Claire McCaskill, Debbie Stabenow, Sherrod Brown, Patty Murray, and others to send Senate Republican leadership a message asking them to reject the House Republican rule and stop trying to make hostages out of Social Security beneficiaries.
According to its actuaries, the Social Security Disability Trust Fund will be unable to pay full disability benefits starting as early as 2016, meaning that legislative action will be necessary next year.
Instead of taking responsible action to address the issue, House Republicans have put those benefits at risk.  They've adopted a legislative rule change stopping simple bipartisan reallocations that would adjust the financing of the Social Security Disability Trust Fund.
This move is particularly disturbing since past reallocations have been commonplace and bipartisan.  In fact, Congress has reallocated taxes between the Social Security retirement and disability trust funds 11 times before, including four times under President Reagan.
House Republicans are only increasing the chances of yet another unnecessary manufactured crisis, akin to shutting down the government or threatening a debt default.  Senate Democrats are the only ones that can put a stop to this, but they must work together.
Hopefully, Senate Republican leaders will speak out forcefully and take this reckless concept off the table in order to assure Americans with disabilities that they can count on their government to act responsibly.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Preparing for the Future


Our economy will become stronger, if hardworking families are given the tools to qualify for the good-paying jobs in a global economy.  The role of government is to ensure that our economy enables citizens to avoid becoming dependent upon our federal government.  However, under Republican administrations we have historically ended up with massive numbers of people needing help.  For example the Great Depression of 1929, and the recent recession that started in 2008.
There used to be bipartisan support in Congress for investing in infrastructure and research, but the problem is how to pay for those investments.  Most people don’t mind paying their fair share of taxes as long as everybody else does.  But, for far too long, lobbyists have rigged the tax code with loopholes that allow some very profitable corporations to pay nothing while others pay full freight.  They’ve riddled our tax code with giveaways that the super-rich don’t need, while denying a break to middle-class families who need a helping hand.
President Obama suggested: “Let’s close loopholes so we stop rewarding companies that keep profits abroad, and reward those that invest here in America.  Let’s use those savings to rebuild our infrastructure and to make it more attractive for companies to bring jobs home.  Let’s simplify the system, by closing the loopholes that lead to inequality by allowing the top one percent to avoid paying taxes on their accumulated wealth.  We can use that money to help more families pay for childcare and send their kids to college.  We need a tax code that truly helps working Americans trying to get a leg up in the new economy, and we can achieve that together.”
Congressional Republicans don’t want a solution, because increasing corporate profits require hardworking families continue to struggle at low wages. 
  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Helping Families


In today’s economy having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families.  Therefore, affordable, high-quality childcare is needed more than ever.
We should stop treating childcare as a women’s issue, and treat it as an important national economic priority that it is.  President Obama has put forth a plan to make quality childcare more available and affordable for every middle-class and low-income family with young children, by creating a new tax cut for up to $3,000 per child, per year.
Actually, nothing helps families make ends meet more than higher wages, but the Republicans controlled House refuses to allow it to even be debated.  To those in Congress who refuse to raise the minimum wage, President Obama said: “If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, try it.  If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.”
Why haven’t congressional Republicans even considered passing a law that ensures a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work, or making sure employees get the overtime they’ve earned? 

The ideas President Obama has suggest won’t make anybody rich, and won’t relieve every hardship, but it will give working families a fair shot.  We need more employers to recognize that investing in their workforce is in their company’s long-term interest.  We need laws that strengthen unions rather than weakens them, and give American workers a voice.
Ideas like paid sick leave, affordable childcare, equal pay for women, lower mortgage premiums and a higher minimum wage will make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of families.  Those are the issues that our representatives were sent to Washington D.C. to address.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Rebutting Edward Dawyot


Edward Dawyot’s letter of 1/26/15 confirmed racism is ignorance.
On June 11, 1963, in a nationally televised speech, President Kennedy called for civil rights legislation.  Vice President Johnson predicted that the Democratic Party would lose the South, but both he and Attorney General Robert Kennedy pushed JFK to act.
That legislation ended unequal application of voter registration requirements, racial segregation in schools, in the workplace, and by facilities that serve as public accommodations.  It became illegal to compel segregation of the races in schools, housing, or hiring.
After JFK’s assassination, President Johnson sign the Civil Rights Act.  As anticipated the South turned solidly Republican.  Thus, the Republican Party inherited all those southern racist, who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for northerners that had defeated their ancestors in the Civil War.  
Two-thirds of the population of Ferguson, Missouri are black, but the mayor, police chief and five of six city council members are white.  Fifty of the 53 people in Ferguson’s Police Department are white.

There’s a growing awareness, that law enforcement doesn’t always apply justice in a colorblind fashion.  The grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown isn’t going to go away with the resignation of officer Wilson.  The judicial system of Ferguson will need many more resignations inorder to not be considered racially bias.

The median income among black Americans is half that of white Americans.  Although, 56 percent of black Americans believe they face significant discrimination, only 16 percent of whites agree.  America has a greater wealth gap between whites and blacks than South Africa had during apartheid.

Scientific research over the past 50 years show that newly released white felons experience better job hunting success than young black men with no criminal record.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Edward Dawyot


Yesterday, The Oneonta Daily Star published the following opinion, that was submitted by Edward V. Dawyot of Mount Vision.

“If truth is racism, I may be called racist.  In 41 years as an electrician, I was privileged to work with many fine African Americans I truly call friends.  Nowadays when a thug in Ferguson was shot by a white police officer repelling a threat on his life, it is called racial by Al Sharpton and our divider-in-chief Barack Obama.  Riots ensue, with businesses looted and burned, while police are ordered to stand down.

“What about the storekeepers and throwing a molotov cocktail at police is not attempted murder of police but possibly just getting their attention?

“How have James Earl Jones (being half African-American and half American Indian) and doctor Ben Carson, a prominent surgeon from Detroit, achieved success?  Hard work and overcoming obstacles, as the Tuskeegee Airmen and Jackie Robinson would also attest.

“Is it not surprising Republicans were responsible for abolishing slavery and passing the Civil Rights Act while African-Americans continue to let liberal Democrats enslave them, buying their votes through entitlements and affirmative action?  Sports are the sole example of hard work and individual merit prevailing while America falls apart with political correctness.

“African-Americans will prevail when they break the bonds of a half-white, half-black, manipulating president and the enslaving liberal Democrats; promote a strong family environment, hard work, fiscal sanity and lower taxes; replace the Obamacare tax; eschew political correctness; and end class warfare.  Obama knows “united we stand, divided we fall,” so don’t let him divide us, and we will all thrive together instead of divided and taxed to death.  Realize your vote counts, so vote the bums out and don’t continue to be manipulated.”

Tomorrow, I’ll attempt to educate Mr. Dawyot by writing a civil, persuasive, and most importantly factual response to his opinion.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Practical Proposals


President Obama will send Congress a budget filled with practical ideas to ensure that our economy will continue to benefit more Americans.  In order for people to earn higher wages, our government must help them upgrade their skills.  During the last century out government helped built the best workforce in the world, by making a high school education free, and sending a generation of veterans to college.  That educated work force led the world, but other countries have caught up.  The rewards for our workers in a 21st century economy could be greater than ever before, but they’ll need help catching up.
By the end of this decade, two out of every three job openings will require some higher education.  Unfortunately, we live in a country where many of our brightest student are being priced out of the education they’ll need.  It’s not fair to them, and its not serving the future of our economy.  Therefore, President Obama has asked Congress to pass a plan to lower the cost of a community college to zero.
Presently, 40 percent of college students are deciding to attend a community college.  Some are recent high school graduates.  Some are older and looking for a better job.  Some are veterans or single parents trying to transition back into the job market.  Whoever they are, Obama’s plan will provide an opportunity to graduate ready for the new economy without a lot of debt.  They’ll have to earn a degree by keeping their grades up and graduating on time.
Tennessee, a state with Republican leadership, and Chicago, a city with Democratic leadership, are already showing that free community colleges are possible.  Hopefully, two years of free college will become as common in America as high school is today.  Obama also wants to work with this Congress to make sure those already burdened with student loans can reduce their monthly payments so that student debt doesn’t derail anyone’s dreams.

Vice President Biden has undertaken the task of updating our job training system.  The Obama administration has been linking community colleges with local employers to train workers to fill high paying jobs like coding, nursing, and robotics.  More businesses have been asked to follow the lead of companies like CVS and UPS, and offer more educational benefits and paid apprenticeships, that give workers the chance to earn a livable wage even if they don’t have a higher education.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Paid Family Leave


In many ways Canadians and citizens of several European nations are doing better than middle- class Americans.  Most of them get free health care, subsidized childcare, and at least three weeks paid vacation, paid sick leave, and paid parental leave.  Our country is the only advanced economy, that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers.  Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave.

President Obama has insisted, that our government should support working families so that more people have the tools to succeed in this new economy.  He has asked Congress to send him a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave. 

In states where the issue of paid sick leave was on the ballot last November it won.  Still too many parents are forced to choose between a paycheck and a sick child at home.  

In today’s economy, most women are working.  There are fewer stay at home mothers to take care of a sick child, without losing a day of work.  Sometimes a sick employee should stay home, because that person shouldn’t be infecting other employees.

This issue will always runs into the resistance of people who claim it will cost to0 much, and is something they can’t afford.  But, if you’re running a restaurant and have an employee working, who’s sick and coughing, and a customer or other employees ends up with a cold or flu, that’s not good for business.

Republicans will claim, that government shouldn’t be getting involved in the private sector, because it should be making its own decisions.  Congressional Republicans have an opportunity to be doing more than just talking about family values, by supporting a paid family leave proposal?   I’m betting, that they’ll remain anti-worker?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Middle-class Economics


Middle-class economics is the concept that our country does best when everyone gets a fair shot, does their fair share, and plays by the same set of rules.  Everyone contributes, and shares in America’s success.
The Obama administration has demonstrated that middle-class economics of expanding opportunity for more Americans to work is beneficial.  Those policies will continue to work and our economy will continue to thrive as long as politics doesn’t get in the way.  Our economy must not be put at risk by the threat of another government shutdowns.  The security of families must not be put at risk by taking away their health insurance, or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street.  Obama warned Congress, that if a bill comes to his desk that tries to undo that progress, he’ll veto it. 

This recovery is touching the lives of more people.  Wages are starting to rise again, and more small business owners plan to raise their employees’ pay than at any time since 2007.  But, Congress needs to set its sights higher than just making sure government doesn’t screw things up, or that government doesn’t halt the progress we’re making.  Our government must do more to restore the connection between hard work and growing opportunity for every American. 
 
Throughout our history, our government has set up protections for middle-class workers.  Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid enables us to protect ourselves from the harshest adversity.  Government has provided our citizens with public schools and colleges, infrastructure and the Internet.

To ensure that middle-class economics continues to help working families feel more secure in our constantly changing world, our government should help parents afford childcare, college, health care, and a home, by lowering taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets.
  

Friday, January 23, 2015

Good News


Over the past five years, our businesses have created more than 11 million new jobs.  Our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999.  Our unemployment rate is lower, than it was before the 2008 financial crisis.  More of our children are graduating than ever before.  More of our people are insured than ever before.
We’re as free from the grip of foreign oil as we have been in almost 30 years, and have reduced our dependence on foreign oil, while protecting our planet.  America is now number one in oil and gas production, and we’re also number one in wind power.  Every three weeks, we are bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008.  Lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, means that the typical family this year should save about $750 at the pump.
Our schools have prepared our children for a more competitive world.  Today, our younger students have earned the highest math and reading scores on record.  Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high, and more Americans have finish college than ever before.
The Dow Jones average has occasionally been above 18,000.  By comparison on the day President Obama was sworn into office, the Dow closed at 7,949.  We’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, and the stock market doubling is great news, because many Americans have 401Ks.
Last year, about 10 million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage.  The health care inflation rate is at its lowest in 50 years.
New tools to stop taxpayer-funded bailouts of Wall Street are in place, and a new consumer protection watchdog is defending us from predatory lending and abusive credit card practices.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has returned billions of dollars to Americans who were wronged.
For the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over.  Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Today, fewer than 15,000 remain.  Joining Forces, the national campaign launched by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden has helped nearly 700,000 veterans and military spouses find a new job.
During his State of the Union Address, President Obama quipped: “This is good news, people,” to those Republicans, who were sitting with a glum expression on their face.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tolerant and Inclusive


France has the largest Muslim population in Europe, and considered by many to be among the least assimilated.  Other countries have problems with assimilation, but in France there’s a growing sense of hopelessness among the Arab minorities.

In France, more than a third of their Muslim community are deeply worried about the rise of extremism within Islam.  Rather than continuing to marginalize Muslims, the French should be working with them, because they can potentially be an ally in gaining intelligence, or changing the views of Jihadist.

Although, America is engaging in ethnic and religious profiling, overtime we’ve improved our tolerance of minorities.  For example after 9/11, we did a much better job than we did during World War II, when Roosevelt incarceration 100,000 innocent American men, women and children of Japanese descent.

Last month, Australia provided a splendid example of assimilation after two hostages were killed, by a Muslim gunman in a Sidney café.  First Australians united to condemned the barbaric taking of hostages, but then they initiated an “I’ll ride with you,” social media campaign, whereby people offered to escort women in Hijabs so that they wouldn’t be intimidated or fear of backlash.

There are a lot of things our government can do, such as gathering more intelligence, hardening potential targets, or attempting to ensure that if people do engage in act of terrorism they’ll use guns, rather than chemical or biological weapons.

Our government needs to utilize the Muslim community, because the large majority of them want to be our allies.  Many Muslims believe that, no cartoonist has ever defamed the Prophet Muhammad as much as the terrorist who invaded Charlie Hebdo.  They’re worried about the rise in terrorism, and the way they and their children are being perceived.  Let’s work with them in an inclusive way.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Warmest on Record


The National Climatic Data Center, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, announced that 2014 was Earth's warmest year on record, with an average temperatures 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit above the previous high.  The average temperatures over land and oceans were higher in 2014 than any year since 1880, when record-keeping began.

This past December saw the third-highest average global land temperature for any December in the past 135 years.   According to the the National Climatic Data Center, last December was 2.45 degrees Fahrenheit above average. 
Tw0 years ago, scientists reported, that the level of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had reached a milestone.  Instruments show that CO2 had reached an average daily level above 400 parts per million.  Evidence suggested the amount of CO2 in the air hadn’t been that high for at least three million years.  Scientists believe the rise foretells dangerous changes in the climate and the level of the sea.
Dr. Ralph Keeling, who runs a monitoring program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography said: “It means we are quickly losing the possibility of keeping the climate below what people thought were possibly tolerable thresholds.”
Dr. Keeling’s father, Charles David Keeling, began carbon dioxide measurements on Mauna Loa in the late 1950s.  The elder Dr. Keeling found a level in the air then of about 315 parts per million — meaning that if a person had filled a million quart jars with air, about 315 quart jars of carbon dioxide would have been mixed in.
The measurements atop Maura Lao on the big island of Hawaii has long been ground zero for monitoring the worldwide trend on carbon dioxide.  Devices there sample clean, crisp air that has blown thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean, producing a record of rising carbon dioxide levels that has been closely monitored for half a century.

From studying air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice, scientists know that 800,000 years ago, the carbon dioxide level oscillated in a tight band, from about 180 parts per million in the depths of ice ages to about 280 during the warm periods.  The evidence shows that global temperatures and CO2 levels are closely linked.

For the entire period of human civilization, roughly 8,000 years, the carbon dioxide level was relatively stable.  But the burning of fossil fuels has caused a 41% increase in the heat-trapping gas since the Industrial Revolution.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Who’s Being Deceitful?


Senator Bernie Sanders noted: “Social security is not going broke.  Social Security has a trust fund surplus of $2.76 trillion.

Republican Congressman Tom Price insists: “It’s important that Congress strengthen and secure Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  Everyone of those programs is going broke.  When you hear folks say, you don’t need to worry about social security, that’s not only irresponsible it’s deceitful.” 

For a long time, congressional Republicans have wanted to privatize Social Security, and allow Wall Street to gamble with that trust fund.  In fact, former President George W. Bush called for a transition to a combination of a government-funded program and personal accounts through partial privatization of social security.  They were against Social Security when it was initiated in the 1930s, and they’re still against it.

Social Security has become a very popular program, because it has worked for 80 years.  It clearly demonstrates that the Republican claim that "government is the problem," is untrue.  That is why so many congressional Republicans want to see it fail.  

Budget Committee Chairman, Price admits: “The budget as you know isn’t just numbers, it’s our vision.”

Rep. Tom Price’s position as head of the budget committee, and Paul Ryan position as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee have a lot to do with the future of Social Security.  Now, congressional Republicans are targeting Social Security disability insurance, which would affect 11 million people who received those benefits.  They realize that Social Security is very popular, and they won’t be able to privatize it, so they’ve decided to chip away at certain aspects of it.

The Republican party never liked the idea of a social safety net, because it discredits their vision, regarding the size and role of government, and the meaning of individual freedom and equality.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Analyzing the Numbers


The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Eva Moskowitz, CEO of the Success Academy charters in New York City.  Moskowitz claimed that the neighborhoods with the most charter schools saw the greatest gains for their public schools.  She claimed the expansion of charter schools were a “windfall” for public schools.
Charter schools often have fewer or no students with disabilities, few English language learners and disruptive students.  This means that the local public schools have more of those students who require extra resources.  Therefore, the assertion of a “windfall” is questionable.
Horace Meister worked at the Department of Education headquarters for more than a decade, and has experience in analyzing numbers.  Therefore, he decided to check the data.
An excerpt from Meister’s analysis follows: “Ms. Moskowitz attempts to defend charter schools from two accusations 1) that they cherry pick students and that 2) this cherry-picking has negative consequences for local public schools and the students who attend them.
“Although she raises the cherry-picking issue she never fully addresses it.  We will not let her get away with that.  Ms. Moskowitz brags about how many students at Success Academy are eligible for free lunch.  She forgets to compare this to the averages at the local public schools.  We will do her work for her and for the editors who should have insisted that she do this.
“The 2014 Progress Report data, used to compare the performance of all New York City public and charter schools, was released last month. These data show that Success Academy in Harlem serves 9.5% fewer students receiving free lunch, 18.5% fewer students on public assistance, 64% fewer students who live in temporary housing, 46.8% fewer English Language Learners, 44.6% fewer special education students, and 93.2% fewer of the highest need special education students than the average for public elementary and middle schools in District 5 in Harlem.
“Whether on purpose or by accident, it is clear that charter schools are cherry-picking students.  This may be because they refuse to enroll students, even those who win the lottery, if they do not attend pre-enrollment summer school or meet other criteria.  It may be because students who misbehave are suspended or expelled at sky-high rates.  It may be because the parents of students with challenges do not bother to apply.  Whatever the causal explanation, charter schools serve a select student population.”

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Geoffrey Canada


Geoffrey Canada is renowned around the world for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem, and as a passionate advocate for education reform.

From 1990 to 2014, Canada served as the President and Chief Executive Officer for the Harlem Children’s Zone, which The New York Times described as “one of the most ambitious social-policy experiments of our time.”  In 2011, he was named to the TIME 100 list of most influential people in the world and, in March 2014, named one of Fortune’s 50 greatest leaders in the world. 

Currently, he serve as President of the Harlem Children Zone and on the Promise Academy Boards.  Under Canada’s visionary leadership, HCZ has become a national model and the subject of significant media attention.  It’s featured in the documentary “Waiting for Superman.”

Geoffrey Canada grew up in the South Bronx in a poor, sometimes violent neighborhood.  Despite his troubled surroundings, he achieved great academic success, receiving a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College in Maine and a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  After graduating, he began his life’s work helping children who, like himself, grew up in poor, distressed neighborhoods.

As a strong voice in public debates on education, he has written for a number of publications, including op-eds for The New York Times and Daily News, and has spoken to audiences around the world about what it takes to help children succeed, from evaluation to early childhood education and beyond.

Canada was selected by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to serve as co-chair of the Commission on Economic Opportunity, responsible for formulating a plan to significantly reduce poverty.  In 2011, he was appointed to the New York State Governor’s Council of Economic and Fiscal Advisors.

Promise Academy Charter Schools are unlike other schools.  In addition to having a longer school day and year, they offer students and families a comprehensive network of supports, from pre-kindergarten to an in-school health center, from family counseling to benefits assistance.  Students have access to a high-quality after-school program, which offers academic assistance as well as enriching clubs and recreational activities.

The Promise Academy schools are dedicated to empowering their students to succeed in college and the high-skills job market.  The teachers, staff, students, and parent(s) have promised each other to do whatever it takes to ensure their scholar will succeed.

Tomorrow’s post will enable us to better understand the charter vs. public school issue.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Islamaphobia


There is a perception by many Muslims in Europe, that France is the most Islamophobia society in Europe.  It’s the place where the ban on a hijab, the religious headdress of Muslim women has been an intense issue.

Dean Baquet, head of the New York Times, has been criticized for raising the valid point that it’s part of the job for the heads of news organization to assess the safety of their staff.

Many American television networks, magazines, and newspapers have taken the position of not showing the disrespectful cartoon images of the Prophet Muhammad.

And, criticism has continued to mount regarding President Obama for not sending any high-ranking officials to the mass anti-terror rally in Paris.  

Jeremy Scahill, the co-founder of the online publication,“The Intercept,” points out: “I think it’s moving to everybody to see so many people pour to the streets.  And to have this discussion about freedom of the press, and to defend journalists even when they are saying something or drawing something that we find hateful or offensive or demeaning to our faith, those are all important principles.
“But when I watched it, I looked at all those leaders and the world leaders that were in the front row there, by the way, they weren’t on the side street, they weren’t exactly leading this march of millions of people.

“Many of them are enemies of a free press.  There are several dictators from Africa there who are enemies of a free press.  The leader of Ireland has outlawed blasphemy.  Benjamin Netanyahu who’s government has killed scores of Palestinian journalists, apparently targeting some of them at times.  So I think that we have to weigh the hypocrisy that’s almost always on display when world leaders are at the forefront of what’s supposed to be a sort of, you know, people’s response with the actual facts.

“For instance the U.S. is a close ally of the dictator in Egypt right now, General Sisi.  General Sisi apparently is marking his solidarity with the free press by keeping the Al-Jazeera journalist locked up in prison.
“So, I think that we have to realize the positive that’s come up this, which is at the world is talking about a free press and what to do with unpopular speech, but at the same time, many of these world leaders aren’t practicing those same principles back at home.”

Friday, January 16, 2015

Respect


The debate over the “Charlie Hebdo” magazine’s satirical cartoons has begun.   

Anjem Choudary  a Muslim cleric wrote in “USA Today”: “The potential consequences of insulting the messenger Mohammed are known to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.  So why in this case that the French government allow the magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’ to continue to provoke Muslims, thereby placing the sanctity of its citizens at risk?”

Regarding the editor of the magazine, who was one of the 12 people killed, Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League wrote: "It is too bad he didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death.  Had he not been so narcissistic he may still be alive."

On Fox News Donahue said: “The abuse of liberty in this country and in England by these smart alecs who treat -- who want to take their middle finger and put into the face of people of faith, that has to stop, too.  How about some restraint and civility and decency on the part of these people?”

In 2004, Robert Reich wrote: “the greatest conflict of the 21st century is between; those who believe in science, reason and logic and those who believe that truth is revealed through scripture and religious dogma.”

By definition faith is belief in God, and in the doctrines or teachings of religion.  Therefore, faith is the antithesis of skepticism, distrust and objective truth.  I’ve become distrustful of most religions, because they stifle freedom of thought, and blind the righteous to the role faith plays in perpetuating human conflict.

Versions of golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” is shared by 21 world religions.  This rule is also referred to as the ethic of reciprocity and is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights.

A society is expected to draw the line on extremist, by voting for representatives in Congress, who aren’t pushing a religious agenda, and demonstrate wisdom.  That isn’t happening in America or France.

The golden rule was ignored in France by the publishers of the magazine Charlie Hebdo.  It’s unwise, to shout fire in a packed movie theater.  It’s unwise and also dangerous to disrespect Muhammad the venerated prophet of the Muslim religion.

Believe whatever helps you make it through the night, but teach your children the importance of respecting another person’s religion, if they expect others to respect their religion.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Taking Credit


Shortly after becoming the Senate Majority Leader McConnell claimed: “After so many years of sluggish growth, we’re finally starting to see some economic data that can provide a glimmer of hope.  The uptick appears to coincide with the biggest political change of the Obama administration’s long tenure in Washington.  The expectation of the a new Republican Congress.”

It’s not surprising that McConnell is attempting to taking credit for a rebounding economy.  Our economy added 252,000 more jobs in December.  In fact, 58 consecutive months of private sector job growth is the longest stretch in history.  The unemployment rate is down to 5.6 percent, the lowest since June of 2008.  The nearly 3 million jobs that were created in 2014 is the strongest job growth since 1999.

On February 13, 2009, the Dow Jones closed at 7850.  Markets continued to drop, and the Dow closed at 6,547 on March 9, 2009.  In February 2009, employers slashed 651,000 jobs.  The unemployment rate was sitting at 8.1 percent, and eventually went up to 10.2 percent.

Also on February 13, 2009, less than a month after President Obama took office, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed.  Back then, both Houses of Congress were controlled by the Democrats.  Not a single Republican member of the House voted for the $787 billion economic stimulus package.  

In it’s first year, the Recovery Act saved or created at least 2 million jobs, cut taxes for 95 percent of working families, and made loans to over 42,000 small businesses.  The stimulus included infrastructure investment, and assistance to the unemployed.  It provided relief for state governments facing record budget shortfalls.  

Economists estimated that by September of 2012, the stimulus had created 3.6 million jobs.  Even after all that obstruction from congressional Republicans, we witnessed 47 straight months of private sector job growth.  They filibustered countless jobs bills, that sought to create jobs.  Had the American Jobs Act of 2013 passed, it would have created an additional 1.9 million jobs.

In the last quarter of 2010, the automobile loan program was working.  General Motors earned over $33 billion.  It was the strongest performance in six years.  Last month, GM reported sales had soured more than 19 percent.

In 2010, we saw the lowest unemployment rate in five years, and our deficits had been cut by more than half.  Today, our deficits have been cut by about two-thirds.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Poor Suffer


Pope Francis plans to make climate change a personal issue for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.  He will publish an encyclical, that speak to United Nations leaders, and organize a summit of world religions aimed at pressuring countries to commit to a strong climate agreement at a Paris meeting next December. 
Catholics, who have rallied for climate change action are thrilled with the Pope's efforts.  Neil Thorns, head of advocacy at Catholic development agency announced: “The anticipation around Pope Francis’s forthcoming encyclical is unprecedented.  We have seen thousands of our supporters commit to making sure their MPs know climate change is affecting the poorest communities.”
Pope Francis has offended at least one climate change denier.  Cardinal George Pell, a former archbishop, who is in charge of the Vatican’s budget argued in a 2011 speech that CO2 is "not a pollutant, but part of the stuff of life.  Animals would not notice a doubling of CO2 and obviously plants would love it."
Evangelical Christian spokesman Calvin Beisner said: “The pope should back off.  The Catholic church is correct on the ethical principles but has been misled on the science.  It follows that the policies the Vatican is promoting are incorrect.  Our position reflects the views of millions of evangelical Christians in the U.S." 
Climate change isn’t a far-fetched cause for Christians, or anyone who cares about inequality.  That's because, at its root, global warming comes from a relatively small number of countries and corporations, while poor populations suffer most of its consequences.  
The point of an international treaty or accord is to get every country to act in everyone's best interest.  Pope Francis explained: “The monopolizing of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth."

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

America’s Resurgence


In December, businesses created 240,000 new jobs.  Businesses have created 11.2 million new jobs for over 58 consecutive month.  Job growth in American manufacturing is the best its been since the ‘90s.  The unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent, which is the fastest it has fallen in thirty years. 
We have become the world’s number one producer of oil and gas.  Consumers are saving about a dollar and 10 cents a gallon more at the pump than at this time last year.  Under the Affordable Care Act, about 10 million citizens have gained health insurance in the past year.  Since President Obama took office, we’ve cut our deficits by about two-thirds.
America’s resurgence is real, and if all members of Congress do their part, they could make sure that this economic tide will start lifting all boats again.  Congress needs to  come together to ensure that a strong middle class, which historically has been the engine that powers America’s prosperity will do so for decades to come. 
Recently, Obama visited a Ford plant outside Detroit, because the American auto industry in Michigan has redefined the word “comeback.”   Next, he traveled to Arizona, a state that was among the hardest hit by the housing crisis, to announce a plan that would put hundreds of dollars in pockets of new homeowners’ while helping more families buy their first home.  Then, he went to Pellissippi State Community College in Tennessee, because that state has been making outstanding strides in education.  There President Obama unveiled a plan to make two years of community college free for every responsible student.
Making homeownership easier, bringing a higher education within reach, and creating more jobs that pay a decent wage; are just some of the ways government can help American move forward in a new economy.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Cuban Dissidents


Dissidents for democracy advocates inside Cuba fear that the policy changes President Obama has announced would give the Castro regime economic benefits without having to address human rights or their political system.
The Cuban government has released over 50 dissidents, and they’re going to be allowing the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations human rights agencies to operate more freely inside of Cuba and monitor what is taking place.
President Obama shares the concerns of human rights activists that the Cuban regime will continue to represses its people.  He has announced that he doesn’t anticipate overnight changes, but points out that we’ve been doing the same thing for 50 years and nothing has changed.  Obviously, we should try something different if we want a different outcome.

Cuba is opening itself to church groups visiting their fellow believers inside of Cuba in ways we hadn't been before.  It offers the prospect of telecommunications and the Internet being more widely available in Cuba.  Through engagement, our government will have a better chance of bringing about change than we would have had otherwise.
Nevertheless, President Obama noted: “I think it would be unrealistic for me to map out exactly where Cuba will be.  But change is going to come to Cuba.  It has to.  They’ve got an economy that doesn’t work.  They’ve been reliant for years first on subsidies from the Soviet Union, then on subsidies from Venezuela.  Those can’t be sustained.  And the more the Cuban people see what’s possible, the more interested they are going to be in change. 
“But how societies change is country-specific, it’s culturally specific.  It could happen fast; it could happen slower than I’d like; but it’s going to happen.  And I think this change in policy is going to advance that.”

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Holding NYC Hostage


By allowing police to walk off the job in protest, state and city governments would hand them a powerful bargaining chip, that would be dangerous for the public.

There are laws on the books in New York City that prohibit police unions and firefighters from striking.  If police strike, who would respond when crimes are committed? 

The NYPD union job action appears to be coming as close as it can to avoid an illegal strike.  In the two weeks since NYPD Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were murdered as they sat in their patrol car, there has been a dramatic drop in police activity in the city.  When the number of arrests made by police during Christmas and New Year’s week a year ago are compared to the same time period this year, we find that the number of arrests have dropped by more than 50 percent.  This year, the numbers for people issued criminal summons to show up in court to pay a fine is down 90 percent compared with last year.  There has been a drop off in numbers for moving violations, such as speeding tickets, and police aren’t issuing nearly as many parking tickets as they did last year.

This isn’t a fluke.  After those two police officers were killed last month, a memo attributed to the police union advised officers to not make arrests "unless absolutely necessary."   But, now that the numbers are known regarding, what police are actually doing, the union’s denying that this huge decline in arrest, summons and tickets is a coordinated action.

The NYPD union is disrespecting NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, because they feel that he doesn’t give them enough support for what they do.  In fact, what they’re doing now, without admitting to it is holding the city hostage. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Economic Considerations


The United States has increased its production of oil by 5 million barrels over the last five years.

On Jan. 5th. the Dow plummet 331 points.  One of the reasons was that oil prices fell below $50 a barrel, before settling down at $50.04 a barrel.  Nationally, gas prices have fallen for 102 straight days.  

Lower fuel prices helped boost auto sales.  GM reported that December sales soared to more than 19 percent.  The unemployment rate fell from 5.8 percent in November to 5.6 percent in December.  That's a significant drop from the 6.7 percent last December.  According to the Department of Labor the economy added over 2.9 million jobs, in 2014, making it the strongest year for job growth since 1999.

Russia heavily relies on oil sales, but because of drop in oil prices, it’s seeing less foreign money coming in, which, along with U.S. sanctions is driving down the value of the ruble.  Russia’s former finance minister insists that the country is facing a "full blown economic crisis.”
The value of our currency isn’t going down.  In fact, part of what’s causing oil prices to go down is how strong the U.S. dollar has become.  President Obama’s approval rating has slowly been going up, reaching a 16 month peek in December.

After Chevron paid over a hundred million in Canadian dollars for the drilling rights, it recently informed the Canada’s Energy Board, that it’s putting its arctic drilling plan on hold "indefinitely."

For now, Saudi Arabia can withstand the low price of oil better than other counties, because their production costs are about $10 a barrel, as compared to our shale oil, and tar sands oil from Canada which are closer to $60 a barrel.

From an environmental perspective higher oil prices are great, because people will consume less.  But, from an investment perspective, when oil is that cheap, you’re not going to have investors pouring billions of dollars into recovering hard to recover oil.  There’s going to be less production, and less money spent on finding and getting new oil out of the ground.

Basically, the Saudis are saying let the price of oil drop to the point where the cost of production makes it economically impossible for those invested in shale oil and tar sands oil to make a profit, and consumers will come crawling back to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Don’t Wait


Last year, almost 7 million people signed up for quality health care coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act.  In many cases the cost of health care was less than the cost of their cell phone or cable bill. 
Under the law, people who already had health insurance are benefitting from additional protections.  Insurance companies can't deny them coverage because of pre-existing conditions, like asthma or diabetes, and they’re able to get free, preventive services like mammograms or blood pressure screenings that their doctors ordered.
Millions of Americans can get quality, affordable health care if they sign up before February 15th.  If you don't have insurance, you should go to HealthCare.gov, where you'll find a menu of different plans, what each plan covers and how much each plan costs.  You pick the one, that best one fits your family's health care needs and budget.  If you don’t sign up by the 15th of this year, you’ll have to wait until 2016 to get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
If you want to talk to somebody on the phone instead call 1-800-318-2596.  Phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  For people, who don’t speak English, there are translators available in over 150 languages to guide them through the process.
If you're not comfortable going online or speaking on the phone, and want to sit down with a person, who can help you through the process, you can find out where to go.  In every community, at local libraries or community health centers, people are there to help.  All you have to do is go on HealthCare.gov, or nystateofhealth and type in where you live, and you’ll find an official navigator agency to sit down with a person who will help you walk through the process.  Even those, who already have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, can go to HealthCare.gov to find a plan that might offer more benefits or be more affordable in price. You might even qualify for additional help paying for the insurance you choose because your income isn't what it was last year.
Many people who didn't think they could find quality, affordable health insurance are actually able to get assistance from the government to help them pay for their health care plans at a cheaper rate.  For example, a family of four with an income of around $95,000 can still get a subsidy to lower their health care premiums.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Grassroots Support


Money is going to the very top, because capital gains tax rates are lower than the tax rates of average Americans.  This has led to the top 1 percent of American’s income nearly doubling.

Congressional Republicans have protected the top 1 percent from tax increases for decades.  Protecting the top 1 percent from higher taxes is a long-term investment for the Republican Party, because they donate a tremendous amount of money to their party.  It’s the reason congressional Republicans are willing to allow the working poor and middle-class of our country to suffer.  Apparently, the Republicans Party must remain the party of the very rich in order to survive.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is very troubled by wealth inequality, whereby the rich are getting richer, while almost everybody else is getting poorer.  Consequently, he’s considering running for the Democratic nomination for president.  He’d run a campaign that would address the issue of tax loopholes for billionaires, and corporations, fight to overturn Citizens United, deal with issue of climate change, and call on Congress to pass a massive jobs program.  He also thinks that our government needs to make college education more affordable.

Sanders is attempting to ascertain whether there is sufficient grassroots support for an anti-billionaire class campaign, which could transform American politics.  It’s easy to give a persuasive speech regarding those issues, but he’s finding it much harder to determine whether, he’d be able to run an effective campaign, that would generate sufficient voter support.

He’s troubled that nearly two thirds of eligible voters didn’t vote in the mid-term election.  His concern is that as the Democratic presidential candidate he’d need the overwhelming support of grassroots activist.  Without that support, he’d get beaten badly, and it’s not worth doing. 

Senator Sanders points out: “There’s something wrong in this country when the middle class is disappearing and 95 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent.  People understand there’s something crazy about the United States being the only major country on earth without a national health care program, guarantying health care to all people.” 

Millions of people across the political spectrum understand there’s something profoundly wrong about the current economic and political system.  We need voices like Senator Sanders representing our disappearing working class.  A politician that is willing to stand up to the billionaire Koch brothers and say enough is enough.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Lacking Supporting Evidence


In the midterm election, 63 percent of eligible voters didn’t vote.

The Oneonta Star published a letter in which I wrote: “As an Army officer, Gibson fought to establish representative democracies in Iraq and Afganistan.  As a cunning civilian politician, Rep. Gibson has served the enemies of democracy, who have been sabotaging our representative democracy, by using voter suppression, and restrictive voter I.D. laws to target minorities.”

Jack Harmon claimed that my opinion: “was a tad below the belt!”  Notably, he didn’t deny that the Republican party has been using voter suppression and restrictive voter I.D. laws to target minorities.

Regarding Wisconsin’s voter ID law, Judge Richard Posner a conservative appointed by Reagan cited a Harvard Law School report that found the cost of documentation, travel and waiting time to get required ID to be as much as $175.  That’s 100 times more than the $1.50 poll tax, a minority voter had to pay at polling station prior to voting in 1963. 

Robert Ross insisted that I had claimed President Obama created a Utopia, but he failed to quote a single word that led him to that erroneous conclusion.

Henry Groth’s letter neglected to stipulate any of the “baloney,” that he accuses Tim O’Bleary of submitting.

Two years ago, the editorial board of the Oneonta Star justified their decision to enable Republicans to keep control of the House, by describing then Democratic candidate, Julian Shreiberman as “an empty suit.”  But, they too neglected to provide supporting evidence regarding what that “empty suit,” included.

I was bewilder that in its unanimous endorsement of Rep. Gibson the Star’s editorial board pointed to his promise of “term - limited himself to one more election after this one.”  That’s the most peculiar reason for endorsing a political candidate, that I can think of.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Greater Influence


President Obama points out, that in the past, there hasn’t been anything like the President of the United States and the President of Cuba making an announcement at the same time that they are moving towards normalizing relations.  That doesn’t mean that over the next two years of his administration, he won’t anticipate Cuba taking actions that he’d find deeply troubling either inside of Cuba or with respect to their foreign policy.  However, that’s true of a lot of countries where we have an embassy.  The whole point of normalizing relations is that it gives us a greater opportunity to have influence with that government than not. 
Future American presidents will be in a position to respond in the same way we do with many other countries around the world that we have diplomatic relations with.  Our State Department will be in a better position to actually have some influence, by using either the carrot or the stick.  Over time, President Obama anticipates that normal diplomatic relations will chips away at Cuba’s hermetically sealed society, and offer the best prospect of leading to greater freedom, and self-determination on the part of the Cuban people.
Members of Congress, and especially Cuban Americans are going to want to see how normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba moves forward before there’s any serious debate about whether or not we would make major shifts in the embargo.
President Obama cannot unilaterally bring down the embargo, because it’s codified in the Libertad Act, and he doesn’t anticipate that the embargo will be lifted any time soon.  But, in Congress there are presently bipartisan supporters, and bipartisan detractors of normalizing our diplomatic relations with Cuba.  There will certainly be a healthy debate on the issue inside Congress, and Obama will certainly weigh in on that debate. 

Monday, January 05, 2015

Tough Fights Ahead


President Obama thinks that there are opportunities to get things done in Congress, and takes Speaker Boehner and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell at their words that they want to get things done.  The problem is going to be will they be able to separate out those areas where they disagree from those areas where they agree.  There are going to be some tough fights ahead in areas where they disagree. 
Obama has warned: “If Republicans seek to take health care away from people who just got it, they will meet stiff resistance from me.  If they try to water down consumer protections that we put in place in the aftermath of the financial crisis, I will say no.”  
He’s confident that congressional Democrats will be able to uphold his vetoes on those types of issues, and hopes to get things done regarding increasing American exports, simplifying our tax system, and rebuilding our infrastructure.  
However, Obama doesn’t buy the argument that if it weren’t for his executive actions congressional Republicans would have been more helpful last year, because there’s no evidence to support that claim.  He intends to continue to do what he’s been doing.  Whenever, he has an opportunity to help the American people, and it’s within his lawful authority to do so, he will act.  He’ll continue to reach out congressional Republicans, and say: “Let’s work together; I’d rather do it with you.”
If executive actions in areas like minimum wage, equal pay, or having a more sensible immigration system are important to Republicans, and the executive actions are bothering them, there is a very simple solution.  Pass bills, and work with Obama to make sure that he’s willing to sign those bills.  Both sides are going to have to compromise, in order for their initiatives to become law.
  

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Global Oil Market


President Obama pointed out that the Keystone XL pipeline is Canadian oil that is drawn out of tar sands in Canada.  That oil currently is being shipped out through rail or trucks, and it would save the Canadian oil industry an enormous amount of money if they could simply pipe it all the way to the Gulf.  
The oil that would be piped through the Keystone pipeline would go into the world market, and sold all around the world.  That’s what ultimately determines oil prices.
The assumption that it will significantly lower gas prices in the United States is untrue.  It’s very good for the Canadian oil industry, but it’s not going to be a huge benefit to U.S. consumers.

The construction of the pipeline would create a couple thousand jobs, but they’re temporary jobs until the construction is completed.  Probably some additional jobs would be created in the refining process down in the Gulf.  As far as creating jobs it’s insignificant compared to hundreds of thousands of well-paying Americans construction worker jobs, that could be created if Congress would authorize funding to rebuilding our deteriorating roads and bridges.
A Nebraska judge is determining whether or not the new path for the pipeline is appropriate.  Once that issue is resolved, the State Department will have all the information it needs to make its decision.
President Obama wants to make sure that if pipeline project goes forward, that it’s not going to add to the problem of climate change.  If we continue to have more flooding, wildfires, and drought, there will be long term costs, that directly impact our economy.  For example, no one can put a dollar figure on the infrastructure and housing damage that another Super Storm Sandy would have on NY City or along the Jersey Shore.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Looking Ahead


President Obama is optimistic that House Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader McConnell are serious about getting tax reform accomplished.  
He would like to see more simplicity and fairness in our tax code.  Presently, there are companies paying the full 35 percent tax rate, which is higher than just about any other country on Earth.  However, one out of ever four very profitable corporations are paying nothing in taxes, because they have better accountants or lawyers to take full advantage of corporate loopholes.
Some companies that are effectively headquartered in the United States, have begun to take advantage of a corporate inversion tax dodge, whereby on paper, they have switched their corporate headquarters off shore to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
It has been estimated that our treasury has been losing over $100 billion a year, because of tax havens in the Cayman Islands, that corporate America and the very wealthy individuals and families are taking advantage of.  It's not fair, and you would think that every member of Congress would insist that every American start paying their fair share. Obviously, that hasn’t been happening.
Our country needs a great deal of infrastructure rebuild, if we're going to remain competitive.  We’re behind much of the industrialized world when it comes to roads, bridges, ports, airports, electrical grids, water systems, sewage systems, and high speed rail.
Potentially corporate tax reform, lowering tax rates, eliminating loopholes so that everybody is paying their fair share would result in more fund for infrastructure.  Historically, infrastructure has not been a Democratic or a Republican issue, and Obama would like to return to that tradition.

There is a possibility that President Obama and Republican congressional leadership could reach a compromise to achieve lower tax rates, eliminate loopholes, while providing more funding for infrastructure.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Black America


Recently, President Obama pointed out: “Like the rest of America, black America in the aggregate is better off now than it was when I came into office.  The jobs that have been created, the people who’ve gotten health insurance, the housing equity that’s been recovered, the 401 pensions that have been recovered -- a lot of those folks are African American.  They’re better off than they were.”
Although, the gap between income and wealth of white and black America has continued, our President insists that the legacy of a troubled racial past of Jim Crow and slavery, shouldn’t be used as an excuse.  The overwhelming majority of black people already understand, that it’s not an excuse.  They’ve been working hard, trying to get an education, and trying to send their children to college.
Our government should be helping all children get a first class childhood education, graduate from high school, and afford college, because if our youth succeed, it will be better future for everyone.
The education reforms that the Obama administration has initiated are showing results.  Our country has witnessed the highest high school graduation rate in years, and a record numbers of young people are attending college.  In many states we’ve seen progress in math and reading scores for African American and Latino students, as well as the broader population.
Recently, there has been a growing awareness in the broader population, that many communities of color have understood for some time, and that is that there are specific instances where law enforcement doesn’t seem to apply justice in a colorblind fashion. 
Consequently, President Obama has formed a task force to report back within 90 days with concrete, practical things that police departments and law enforcement agencies can begin implementing to rebuild trust between communities of color and their police.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Resist Despair


I’ve been very fortunate during my 79 years and much of the joy in my life has been the results of a loving relationship with my wife and children.  Unfortunately, some Americans don’t anticipate much happiness this coming year, because they wallow in self pity rather than address the reasons that led to their unhappy situation.

Undoubtedly, bad things happen to very good people, but much of the adversity that happens to us can in some cases be avoided, by anticipating the consequences of our actions.  Smoking and driving drunk are two of the most obvious examples.  Failing to regularly exercise and gluttony are less apparent.

We must recognize that happiness is a state of mind, which can help minimize the effect that adversity has on our mental health.  We all have heard of people, who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, but in spite of such a dreadful diagnosis continue to find enjoyment in every hour of every day that they have left.  In many cases there is no hope, but they accept the inevitable and resist despair until the very end.

Others will react to such a diagnosis by becoming depressed, and perhaps return to behavior that will hasten their demise or drive caring people away.

For me happiness comes from finding peace within and I firmly believe that hate is like a powerful acid, which does more harm to the container, than that upon which it is spewed.

In many cases, overwhelming sadness and clinical depression are treatable.  

Remember: “Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side, Keep on the sunny side of life.
“It will help us ev’ry day, it will brighten all the way, If we’ll keep on the sunny side of life” 

May you have a happy and healthy New Year.